Like any good bargain-hunter and perpetual decorator, I love ebay. And I often get asked by ebay newbies how do you bid and know how much to spend? Well, forgive the rant to follow but here is my theory: I tend not to subscribe to the view that if you don’t ‘win’ something on ebay then it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that if you don’t win it then you just didn’t bid high enough. My view is that people expect to get a bargain on ebay, so tend to be blinded by the true relative value of things in a normal market. For example, you might see a French chair on ebay starting at $300 and think ‘Tell ‘em they’re Dreaming! (sad-case The Castle reference I use often in my head and sometimes in public). But you might happily pay twice that for the same chair in an up-market French homewares shop, where you’re caught up in the thrill of all the beautiful stuff around you.
Here’s my approach to ebay: I know I really want something if I can picture it in my house and am mentally arranging a room to accommodate it, and if I see it as mine already, before I’ve even bid. When I get that feeling I think of the number that would be the maximum of what I’d happily spend, then add another, say, 20%. If I don’t ‘win’ it after that, I can console myself that it has gone for far more than I can afford to spend.
If I don’t get ‘that feeling’ of having to have something, this is my test: if I saw it in an op-shop or at a market, what would I be prepared to spend? I have often paid more for something in an op-shop than for something similar on ebay, and I believe it’s because we all expect ebay sellers to be desperate to sell and for the prices to be low. From the point of view of a (-n occasional) seller, this can be frustrating. From a bidder’s perspective, if you concur with the low-price rule then it can be downright infuriating when others demur and push the price up.
Well, I’m afraid I fell foul of my own rules this evening, when I missed out on a fabulous French sofa, perfect for the turquoise-fabric-with-long-sofa-cushion-immitation I aspired to in Saturday’s post. A lovely reader had sent me a link to a perfect sofa candidate on ebay, and I was all geared up to pick it up this week. But when the moment of truth came, my measly bid fell short. The worst bit? I’ve seen the same sofa for sale before for half what it went for tonight, and it didn’t sell. I’m sure there is a lesson in here for me somewhere..